Oscars: The three Vancouverites poised to win at the Academy Awards this weekend

Local frontrunners have been collecting prestigious awards in lead-up to Sunday’s Oscars

From left, VFX supervisors Tristan Myles, Brian Connor and Paul Lambert at the BAFTA Awards earlier this month. Myles and Lambert originally hail from the U.K. but, like Connor, work in Vancouver | EE British Academy Film Awards

If what’s past is prologue, it looks like three Vancouverites should be readying their acceptance speeches for the Oscars this Sunday.

Vancouver-based visual effects supervisors Tristan Myles, Brian Connor and Paul Lambert have been on a tear the past few weeks, most recently winning top honours for special visual effects at the prestigious EE British Academy Film Awards (BAFTA) for their work on sci-fi blockbuster Dune.

Leading up to that big win, the Vancouver trio also took home the Visual Effects Society’s award for Outstanding Visual Effects in a Photoreal Feature on March 8.

Myles and Connor both work at Double Negative Ltd.’s (DNEG) Vancouver studio in Mount Pleasant, while Lambert is a former colleague of theirs there.

“A special thanks to DNEG Vancouver … without whose amazing visual effects work I wouldn’t be [standing] up here tonight,” Myles said upon accepting the BAFTA on stage in London with his fellow nominees March 13.

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A sandworm emerges from the planet Arrakis in the 2021 film Dune, as rendered by VFX artists based out of DNEG Vancouver | submitted

He and Lambert previously took home an Academy Award in 2019 for DNEG Vancouver’s VFX work on Neil Armstrong biopic First Man.

Lambert also won in 2018 for DNEG Vancouver’s work on Blade Runner 2049.

Both Dune and Blade Runner 2049 were directed by Canadian Denis Villeneuve.

Oscar winners have traditionally been telegraphed in the weeks leading up to the Academy Awards through industry guild awards.

That’s changed somewhat in recent years as the Academy has diversified its membership, but most prognosticators believe Dune is pretty much a lock to win this year’s Oscar for Best Visual Effects after racking up high-profile industry awards ahead of Sunday’s broadcast.

Germany’s Gerd Nefzer, the film’s special effects supervisor, is nominated along with the Vancouver trio and has been taking home those same preceding awards as well. 

U.K.-headquartered Double Negative Ltd. (DNEG) has about 570 workers based in B.C. as of 2021.

It revealed plans back in August to hire workers for a new feature animation studio in the city amid efforts to expand significantly across Canada.

This came as DNEG’s parent company, Prime Focus Ltd., secured a US$250-million equity investment from Novator Capital Advisers earlier that summer. 

With the new capital in hand, the VFX company also embarked on launching a new studio in Toronto as well as expanding its Montreal office.

The Toronto studio will employ up to 200 workers, while up to 300 additional workers are set to be split between Vancouver and Montreal. The exact split between those latter two offices has not been set in stone.

The B.C. hiring plans encompass both the new animation studio, where as many as 100 animators are to be based, as well as at the existing VFX studio.

“It’s a pretty mature market, and so the talent in Vancouver really is top notch,” DNEG Animation president Tom Jacomb told BIV last September.

“And that’s what we’re really looking to tap.”



Podcast: DNEG's Tom Jacomb on Vancouver's animation boom